'Don't send us to our death' plead Irish Muslims
Ireland to deport 60 Ahmadis to Pakistan, where they face persecution for their religious beliefs
Sixty members of a peaceful Muslim community threatened with genocide by Sunni Islamists are facing deportation from Ireland, the Sunday Independent has learned.
The Ahmadi community, which has some 20 million members worldwide and 450 members in Ireland, are among the most persecuted in the Muslim world.
In Pakistan - where the government is seeking to return most of those under deportation orders - it is a statutory crime for them to claim to be Muslim. Massacres of the Ahmadi community regularly occur in Pakistan and other Islamic countries.
The Ahmadi community is among a range of religious groups in the Muslim world who also face extermination under the rising Sunni Caliphate groups being spearheaded by the Islamic State based in huge swathes of Syria and Iraq, who are now linking up with the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Despite this growing threat, some 60 members of the Ahmadi community, including women and children, are still facing deportation.
The Irish Imam of the Ahmadi community in Ireland, Ibrahim Noonan, told the Sunday Independent: "There are 60 Ahmadi Muslims who are currently in no-man's land here, some for over seven years, essentially losing seven years of their life. They can't work, they cannot get higher education."
Imam Noonan said most of the Ahmadis facing deportation are living in extremely difficult circumstances, and are housed in direct provision hostels for asylum seekers.
He pointed to recent massacres of Ahmadis in Pakistan where houses belonging to the Muslim sect were looted and then burnt to the ground.
"Those Ahmadis living in Ireland are in fear of being sent back to Pakistan. Any Ahmadi being sent there is in terrible danger. The Irish Government must allow them to have status so that they and their children can have a future," Imam Noonan added.
The small community's fears were heightened when gardai from the Garda National Immigration Bureau seized a pregnant Ahmadi woman from her home in Galway and placed her in Mountjoy women's prison prior to being put on a flight to Pakistan.
In the incident, just before Christmas 2011, Judge Gerard Hogan stepped in to stop the deportation of the eight-months pregnant woman after an emergency sitting of the High Court in his home.
The woman was facing deportation to Pakistan where, a short while earlier, more than 100 Ahmadis were murdered in attacks on two mosques. The judge ruled the woman could not be transported in her condition.
Despite the judge's intervention, the Department of Justice is continuing to fight all appeals by people seeking asylum here, including those from persecuted minorities. Some 800 appeals against deportation cases are currently before the High Court, all being fought by the State.
According to Eurostat figures Ireland has, per capita, the highest rate of refusal of asylum seekers in the EU, turning down some 95pc of applicants.
Imam Noonan said the 20-million strong Ahmadis across the world are facing persecution in several countries with the rise of extreme forms of Islam in the Middle East, and also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
He pointed to one recent shocking incident where a woman, Bushra Bibi (55), and her two granddaughters, Hira (7) and Kainat, seven months, were brutally burnt to death in an attack on Ahmadi homes in the Pakistan city of Gujranwala last month. Local people said police stood by and watched as the Islamist mob burnt the houses and killed the woman and two children.
While the West has been focussed on the beheading of journalists in Iraq by the Islamic State, it is the indigenous religious groups like the Ahmadi - declared "apostate" by the Sunni fundamentalists - that are facing the biggest threat with hundreds of thousands now seeking refuge in Europe.
The Department of Justice, when contacted by the Sunday Independent, said that it could not comment on "specific cases".